Boris Johnson has been told by Labour leader Keir Starmer that the biggest threat to the future of the United Kingdom is every time he “opens his mouth”.
At Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) Starmer challenged Johnson his remarks when he said Scottish devolution was “a disaster”.
Sir Keir Starmer said: “Devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is one of the proudest achievements of the last Labour government. Until now, whatever our disagreements, there has been a very broad consensus about devolution.
“So why did the prime minister tell his MPs this week that Scottish devolution is, in his words, a disaster?”
Johnson replied: “I think what has unquestionably been a disaster is the way in which the Scottish National Party have taken and used devolution as means not to improve the lives of their constituents, not to address their health concerns, not to improve education in Scotland, but constantly – and I know this is actually a point of view that is shared by (Sir Keir Starmer) – but constantly to campaign for the break-up of our country.
“To turn devolution, otherwise a sound policy for which I myself personally benefited when I was running London – but turn devolution into a mission to break up the UK.
“That, in my view, would be a disaster.”
But Starmer snapped back that “the single biggest threat to the future of the United Kingdom is the prime minister every time he opens his mouth”.
He continued: “When the prime minister said he wanted to take back control nobody thought he meant from the Scottish people. The prime minister’s quote is very clear – he said devolution has been a disaster north of the border.
“This isn’t an isolated incident, whether it is the Internal Market Bill, the way the prime minister side-lined the devolved parliaments over the Covid response, the prime minister is seriously undermining the fabric of the United Kingdom.
“So, instead of talking down devolution, does he agree that we need far greater devolution of powers and resources across the United Kingdom?”
But instead Johnson went on to talk about Labour and its former leader Tony Blair.
He said: “It is Tony Blair himself, the former Labour leader, who has conceded that he did not foresee the rise of a separatist party in Scotland, he did not foresee the collapse of Scottish Labour.”
Johnson added that “there can be great advantages in devolution” and questioned whether Sir Keir Starmer also “opposes the break-up of the United Kingdom”.
Starmer reiterated his position. He told MPs: “Of course I don’t want the break-up of the Union, but if anything is fuelling that break-up it is the prime minister.”